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Bill Staley

Santa Monica, CA USA

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  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Benjamin Franklin
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (309)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (152)

    From printer's apprentice to internationally famous scientist, inventor, statesman, legislator, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin led a most remarkable life. Seldom is history so well articulated by someone who was there.

    Oleg says: "Ben thru 1757"
    "Great book, great reader, highly recommended."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to be better than the print version?

    It was great to drive around Southern California with Ben Franklin. The writing is very conversational, and Grover Gardner is the perfect narrator. He brings out the dry humor and the irony. It's a joy. If you enjoy it as much as I did, you will probably find yourself looking up many of the best parts to remember later. (Franklin was VERY quotable.) Fortunately, the book is in the public domain and easy to find and search online (with footnotes and illustrations). Even though other reviewers have prepared you, it is a very disappointing shock when the book abruptly ends. I guess we are lucky to have as much as we do have. A quibble - When one chapter ends and another begins, there is no space between them. There is less of a pause than the narrator takes between paragraphs. This is jarring and it is an editing issue, not a narrator issue. It is a shame, because Franklin is a very good writer and you would like to savor the last line of the chapter for a moment. The publisher could easily remedy this, and I sure wish they would.I read this in high school and enjoyed it then, but much more now, as a grownup.To enjoy the book it is no more necessary to know the identities of all the people to whom he refers than it would be necessary to enjoy the stories of your grandpa or uncle (or an attractive person of the opposite sex). It would be nice, and might well reward the work involved. But it is not necessary.


    What other book might you compare The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to and why?

    I came back to the Autobiography because of the recorded conversations available online with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's partner. I commend those conversations to you as an equal joy, especially if you keep up with the world of business. (Mr. Munger is also very quotable.) Another autobiography that I very much enjoyed was the Autobiography of a Yogi.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Ben Franklin riding shotgun with you in your car, chatting away, is wildly fun. Thank you Grover Gardner!.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It would be a waste to read Ben Franklin's Autobiography in one sitting. Partly because you need time to capture a quote before another one makes you forget the last one. If you have a long drive, this would be great, whether you are driving solo, with teenagers or another adult. There is lots of food for discussion (like the governor who promises to set up young Ben as a printer; or does having someone do you a small favor really make it more likely that they will do you a bigger favor?). Be aware that you will want to make some kind of notes (whether audio or on paper) as you listen, much more than other books.


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